Judge Mavis Encourages New Students to Pursue Their Passion and Make Connections
As the keynote Orientation speaker welcoming Southwestern's 100th entering class, Hon. Darrell Mavis, Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court and a member of Southwestern's adjunct faculty, hoped "to inspire new students to pursue their passions and convince them that Friday the 13th is their lucky day!" Before administering the Professionalism Oath to the new class at the conclusion of the formal Orientation program, he encouraged the students to start building good reputations immediately. "Lawyers talk," he said. "The people you go to law school with will be your colleagues for the rest of your career. You have one chance to make a good first impression."
Judge Mavis explained that when he wrote his own personal statement for law school, he started with the sentence, "I want to be a trial lawyer." At the time, his knowledge of trial advocacy came only from what he had seen on television, but he loved the concepts of representing someone and convincing a jury. He went on to pursue a career as a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
"It's an extraordinary privilege to stand in front of juries trying cases that I believed in," he said, speaking of one of his first cases in Van Nuys, prosecuting gang members who killed a high school student. "I met the victim's mother and felt the weight of the world on my shoulders to find justice for her son."
His success in that case reinforced his decision to become a prosecutor. "I woke up every day feeling so lucky to do what I did for 14 years," Judge Mavis said. "Finding what you're passionate about is the challenge. Once you do that, it will make everything better and easier." He tried more than 100 jury trials, including cases that involve murder, torture, kidnapping, child molestation and mayhem. In one of his most high-profile trials, he successfully prosecuted a 17-year-old murder case that involved the killing of two Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration during what would become a highly publicized international, undercover sting operation.
From 1998 to 2000, Judge Mavis was Attorney Liaison at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, where he worked on international criminal matters for state and local prosecutors throughout the United States. In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the Superior Court where he presides over criminal cases.
Judge Mavis has also been a popular member of Southwestern's adjunct faculty since 1996, teaching Trial Advocacy and a special intersession course on the Art of Persuasion. He also has judged the Moot Court Intramural Competition and supervised Southwestern externs both in the District Attorney's Office and in his courtroom.